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F. William Gutzwiller, Eng ’49

F William Gutzwiller

If you take curiosity, mix it with broad interest and hard work, you just might end up developing, say, the silicon controlled rectifier (SCR), a slick invention that controls power flow. Or the TRIAC, a handy little switch used in things like light dimmers and electric motor controls.

Except Bill Gutzwiller and his team beat you to it. By more than 50 years.

In addition to developing new components like the SCR and TRIAC when Bill worked for General Electric, he invented circuits to put these devices to work and wrote manuals to communicate the innovations. He took his show on the road and lectured worldwide, explaining the concepts to equipment designers.

It was cutting-edge work — remember, this was back in the day when the world was moving from vacuum tube technology to the semiconductor diode and transistor, which gave way to familiar, current-day solid-state devices such as LEDs and LCDs — and cutting-edge work means you need to be comfortable having more questions than answers.

Bill could manage that. “Marquette taught me the fundamentals of learning and adapting to new concepts,” he says. “Even though the College of Engineering had not a single course on solid-state technology in those earlier days, the lessons I learned at Marquette attracted me to the pioneering work I ended up doing in solid-state and its applications.”

As a result of his success, GE put him to work managing major equipment development programs, which led him to authoring even more technical papers, receiving numerous patents and offshore registrations, and winning prestigious awards.

Upon his retirement in the mid-1980s, Bill became a consultant, serving major global companies in fields like elevator drives and control networks.

A full enough career? Indeed. But for Bill, there was a second calling in painting pastel scenes from all over the world. Seems he’s still creating.


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